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Going Solo: Fertility Treatments and the Law for Women Starting a Family on Their Own
It's tough to get life sorted as a modern woman. Education, work and finances now commonly take women well into their thirties before they decide to start a family, and not everyone manages to find the right partner by the time they get there. It is perhaps not surprising that increasing numbers of women are making the decision to start a family independently. 'Solo' mothers (as distinct from single mothers) are those who make a positive decision to go it alone and to conceive without a partner - but as well as the social and financial implications of this choice, there are a number of legal implications which all solo mothers in the UK ought to give careful consideration to.
One option for solo mothers is to conceive through sperm donation at a licensed clinic. The sperm is screened, tested and quarantined, ensuring the safety of mother and child and the quality of the sperm. A range of treatments are available, including intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and potentially even treatment with donor eggs, depending on the woman's age and medical history, and assessed with medical guidance from the clinic involved.
One of the biggest longer term advantages for many solo mothers is the parental autonomy and legal clarity this option brings: the status and responsibilities of the donor are excluded by law, and in practice there is no other parent to manage. Of course, this has its downside too, and it is important for a solo mum to ensure she will have all the practical support she will need as chief carer and and to make careful provision in her will to ensure her child is fully protected if anything happens to her. Read more.